Title: “Time to Yield”
Link to Sermon Video: https://subspla.sh/hg4829c
Preacher: Rev. Charlie Alcock is Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University, and is also on staff at Cypress Wesleyan Church, where this message was preached.
Below are a few things we believe made Alcock’s message a helpful one for preachers to learn from:
Winsome Use of Humor—“If you can’t parallel park, I stand against that in the name of the Lord.” Charlie loves storytelling, and it shows from his first moments on the platform here. He weaves the theme of “yielding” into a humorous moment that jokingly protests things like “driver assist,” and smartphones, then pivots back to the disaster that can come when we fail to yield to God’s ways as higher than our ways.
Vocal Variety and Urgency—Charlie is (no doubt) passionate about the topic he’s speaking about, and is incredibly driven to get his point across; but he doesn’t resort to shouting or excessive hand gestures. Instead, he roots his feet in three positions—the table (with his notes), the smartboard (with key points), and directly toward the congregation (for most of the dialogue).
Structured Improvisation—Some of Alcock’s sermon content was improvised on the spot, and yet all of it felt coherent; “tangents,” or “side missions” felt connected to the main focus of the sermon, and served to build a connection between the preacher and the congregation.
Relatable Vignettes—“There comes a moment when God speaks to you, and you say, ‘I hear you, and so I’m going to say I’m sorry.’ ‘I hear you, I’ll go there,’ ‘I hear you, God, I’ll do that.’” As he builds a picture of obedience, Charlie offers the congregation relatable examples rooted in the “stuff” of their everyday life. Far from having a “pie-in-the-sky” vision of what yielding might look like, the listener leaves knowing several small steps of possibility that might make obedience possible.
Scratch the 7-Minute Itch— Dave Ward in his lectures on preaching often describes the five to seven minute itch as a natural phenomenon of human attention. Our minds wander around that time frame if nothing holds them in or brings them back. As attention spans shorten, the best preachers are cultivating ways of crafting a sermon so it has enough variety to provoke interest (whether telling a story, changing vocal tone, picking up an object as an illustration, etc). This sermon is a great example of this, as Charlie weaves in media on the smart board, stories, references to local culture, and personal examples from his own life, all in service of the main point.
Rev. Ethan Linder is the Pastor of Hospitality, Collegians, and Young Adults at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and Contributing Editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development.